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Charity fraud fight is a long-distance race

As the recent Charity Fraud Awareness Week, supported by the ICAEW’s Fraud Advisory Panel, shows, donors and charity trustees alike must remain on the lookout for fraudsters, warns South West Area Society chair Annie Lee.

Annie Lee

November 2018

On 14 October I took part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon for my first half marathon. It was exhilarating, running past iconic landmarks in Central London, very emotional to see a sea of supporters lined up along the route and the numerous charities fundraising for their cause and doing their best to uplift the spirits of the runners.

Fundraising is a fundamental stream of income for many charities and without this vital source of income, these charities would not exist at all. In its first 10 years, the Royal Parks Half Marathon has raised an incredible £36m-plus for its participating charities.

But during these fundraising events, donors and charities must be wary of fraud. Perpetrators will seek out any opportunities or weaknesses to take advantage for themselves. Donors and charities must always be vigilant.

Donors must be certain and have the confidence in the charity before they part with their money. People can perform a simple background check on Charity Commission website to check the charity is legitimate.

Charities must also be vigilant and be on guard continuously. Fraud is a serious threat to every organisation including charities.

The charity must have strong defences. Charity trustees and managers can protect their charity by ensuring strong financial management and good governance, putting in place financial controls and ensuring they are applied robustly. The Charity Commission gives guidance on internal controls for charities and a manual on countering fraud.

  • The Foundation for Social Investment (FSI) sets out 10 questions to Trustees about fraud. This has been raised in conjunction with the recent Charity Fraud Awareness Week (22-26 October 2018). 
  • The Fraud Advisory Panel, established in 1998 by ICAEW, has useful resources and live webinars with Q&As to gain insight into real experiences from a panel of experts. The webinar ‘Keeping charity fraud out’ streamed live on 26 October will be made available under their resources.
  • Knowledge is key, the increased awareness and insight should make the charity more resilient and in good stead to counter fraud.    

Annie Lees is chair of the LSCA’s South West London Area Society. If you wish to support Annie please feel free to donate at her JustGiving page.

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